By Avenell Dave
I had a feeling Arsenal would put up a fight last night. Wenger was bullish before the game. He knows the team are in the zone of dominating teams at home and eeking out results away and it’s of course vital that we keep that momentum going.
Those who scoff at Le Boss’s decision to play his first team will feel rather foolish this morning given how close we came to one of the greatest upsets in Champions League history.
Had Wenger played his kids and we had lost or limped to a 2-1 win, the mood around the club would have been very different ahead of Monday’s game when we can put Newcastle where they belong amongst the ‘well done. Thanks for coming’ visitors to Emirates this season.
As we have long known, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is turning into a vital cog in this machine and his performances have underlined why Wenger pursued him last summer, despite his age.
There will always be youngsters that managers buy who don’t live up to early expectations (Kakuka or Macheda for instance) and with superstars costing so much in fees and salaries, growing our own has to be part of the mix. Even Barca do it regardless of their spending.
With the Ox and Jack Wilshere in midfield, Arsenal have a great foundation and I suspect both of them want to be at the club long term.
What last night showed was that our bench had nothing fresh about it that could change a game. Some speculated that Andrey Arshavin may have made a difference and that is certainly possible, but the fact is that ifs, buts and maybes don’t actually serve any purpose.
What Wenger would have learned last night was that he has a fine team who, with a bit of confidence, can beat anyone.
What he has to do is bolster the squad to cope better with suspensions and injuries.
Notwithstanding Abou Diaby, he has Arteta, Ramsey, Frimpong and Coquelin in midfield, ample full backs and a superb centre-back.
Next season, Benik Afobe needs to go on loan in the Premier League to give him the opportunity to get ready for playing for us in 18 months.
But where we lack impact players is in attack, as we all know, and even signing Lukasz Podolski would not be enough.
As RvP walked into the ground last night, he hugged Gunnersaurus and the way the crowd responded will have reminded him that The Arsenal is a special place. He can certainly earn more money elsewhere and depending on where he goes, he may well win more trophies.
But while I’ve been expecting him to leave the club, things change quickly in football.
Whatever any of the naysayers say, we have a decent team. RvP will certainly want assurances that the squad is being bolstered but I get the feeling that he is revelling in the responsibility and status he has now earned.
If he leaves, we have to thank him for his tremendous efforts. But if he stays, what a boost it would be and a step-change for the club from the days of selling our jewels to polishing and keeping them.